Emma Raducanu’s Grand Slam champion reign was ended in less than two hours as the British teenager fell 6-3, 6-3 to experienced French battler Alize Cornet in the first round of the US Open on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old Cornet used shot variety to keep in control of the defending champion in a battle played in hot, humid conditions on the Louis Armstrong court.
No. 11 Raducanu, who came out of qualifying a year ago to lift the title against all odds, has been fragile ever since, with experts saying she lacks the tennis life experience which comes from working her way toward the top.
The 40th-ranked Cornet broke the Brit seven times and fired 22 winners in victory.
“I’m so tired,” he winner said. “Emma is a great player and a great person – I’m sorry (for the crowd) that I beat her.
“But I’m happy with my performance, it was a solid match overall. But I was tired from the middle of the second set due to all the long rallies.
“I was fighting my heart out and I’m super happy.
Cornet said she found the way to victory with her drop shots, adding “my game at the net was pretty good (14 points out of 15 approaches).
“I’m thinking more about my game and not letting my emotions run away. I’m 32, so better late than never.”
Cornet is making her 63rd consecutive Grand Slam appearance, a new Open Era record, previously held by Japan’s Ai Sugiyama (62).
Raducanu stands 15-19 since winning the Open last September and had never before lost in the first round of a major.